The critics’ top three
Singles of the year
“This Is America” Childish Gambino
The stern, slippery song that accompanied the best music video of the decade is “a glorious reminder that art can be about two things at once, and then some,” said Ben Beaumont-Thomas in TheGuardian.com. Like the video, with its shocking juxtapositions of minstrel dancing and gun violence, the music track is “rich with meaning,” toggling between a dark, pulsing trap beat and a sunny African folk melody as Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, metes out evidence of our culture’s enduring contradictions.
“Thank U, Next” Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande’s first chart-topping single is “the anthem 2018 deserves,” said Dee Lockett in NYMag.com. The 25-year-old star wrote the sugary pop morsel shortly after her public split with comic Pete Davidson, but instead of flatly bad-mouthing her ex, Ariana thanks him—and other past flings—for helping her grow and move on. She’s weathered real tragedies too, and though “Thank U” throws flowers at her exes, don’t mistake it for a song about men: “It’s dedicated to the woman at the eye of their storm who survived.”
“Love It If We Made It” The 1975
“To be online in 2018 is to be simultaneously exhausted and unfazed,” and Manchester, England’s 1975 captured that mood perfectly, said Lyndsey McKenna in NPR.org. Frontman Matt Healy’s staccato delivery “pounds with urgency and anxiety” as he rails against political polarization and the spread of misinformation. Listening to the song “feels like scrolling through a rapidly refreshing Twitter timeline.” But even if modernity has failed us as Healy says it has, “there’s a glimmer of hope in the explosive chorus.”